From Cuba to Yemen: Where is the Legendary Russian T-34 Still in Service?


Laos has returned to Russia 30 fully operational T-34-85 tanks, which since 1987 had been in the service of the country’s army. The armored vehicles, symbol of the victory of the Soviet Union over Nazi Germany, will be used at different stops, exhibitions and movie scenes.

But in addition to Laos, there are many other countries that continued to use the T-34s after World War II.

After the war, Tank T-34-85 remained in the service of forty states in Europe, the Americas, the Middle East, Asia and Africa and participated in most regional wars and conflicts in the second half of the 20th century, although not always operated on the front lines. The simplicity of its use, reliability, a good combination of armor, armament and maneuverability as well as its rich combat experience have made the T-34-85 a dangerous opponent, even for the most modern machines.

The T-34 was widely used in the early months of the Korean War against an adversary who had air supremacy and outnumbered the quality of armored vehicles. Even so, Soviet-made tanks hit 34 American tanks, 15 of which were unrecoverable.

It is worth remembering that the US suffered the first air loss due to a T-34-85, on July 3, 1950, when attacking a North Korean column, the crews of the tanks did not get in the way and retaliated, having completely destroyed the aircraft of Major Amos Sluder.

During the 1956 Suez Crisis, Egyptian T-34-85 tanks fought on equal footing with Israeli Sherman and French AMX-13. The Type 58 tanks – the Chinese copy of T-34-85 – were shown in the Vietnam War, showing their effectiveness in ambush actions.

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In 1961, Soviet tanks proved their high efficacy in Cuba during the fighting in the Bay of Pigs. Realizing a counteroffensive, Cuba defeated the invaders in two days. In the last defensive bastion, the town of Playa Girón, the first to enter was a company of T-34-85 commanded by Fidel Castro.

These tanks also participated in other conflicts: the 1962 coup in Yemen, the 1967 Six Day War, the Turkish invasion of Cyprus in 1974, the civil wars in Angola and Afghanistan. Since 1990, due to the lack of spare parts and general wear and tear, most of the countries that used the tanks began to use them as self-propelled artillery or buried them in a tower, turning them into fortified positions. Meanwhile, in 1991, during fighting in the Adriatic coast, a T-34-85 from Croatia withstood two Malyutka anti-tank missile impacts and destroyed a much younger and modern Serbian T-55 tank.

Today, T-34-85 remains in service in North Korea, Laos, Cuba, Republic of Congo, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Mali, Nigeria, Namibia and Yemen.

T-34-85 participates in the fighting in Yemen on both sides of the conflict. On the Internet there have been videos on the use of this tank in battles by both the Saudi puppet so-called government troops and Houthi-led resistance forces. The vehicles are mainly used as quality fortified mobile fire positions for infantry support.

In conclusion, it should be noted that the T-34-85’s combat capabilities and the influence these tanks have had on the best tank-building schools are recognized worldwide. It is no coincidence that the Discovery television channel has given the legendary “veteran” the top position in the ranking of the best tanks of all time.

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